Authorities in Sri Lanka must immediately rescind the emergency regulations and shooting orders that provide excessive powers to the police and military, and take immediate steps to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of peaceful protestors, Amnesty International said today.
The authorities must also refrain from using the state of emergency as a pretext to curb the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including at the protest sites such as “Gotagogama” in the country.
Following the President’s proclamation of a State of Emergency on 6 May along with a country-wide curfew from 9-12 May, backdated emergency regulations were published overnight on 9 May. They give sweeping powers to the police and the armed forces to search and make arrests of “suspects” without due process safeguards. On 9 May, protesters peacefully demonstrating in front of the Presidential Secretariat since over a month were violently attacked by pro-government supporters after being allegedly incited to violence by top party leaders at Temple Trees, the Prime Minister’s official residence in Colombo. The police stood largely as bystanders to the violence, doing little to effectively protect the peaceful protesters and their protest site, despite having used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protestors just days before on 6 May.
“Authorities in Sri Lanka should carry out a prompt, thorough, impartial, independent, effective and transparent investigation into the reports of violent attacks on peaceful protesters. Authorities should bring to justice those suspected to be responsible and ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims,” said Yamini Mishra, South Asia Regional Director at Amnesty International.
“The attacks look like a deliberate decision by the Police to allow pro-government groups to physically assault peaceful protesters, destroy structures and wreak havoc at the ‘Gotagogama’ protest site. The authorities have an obligation to provide an enabling environment for the protesters to peacefully exercise their human rights, and to end the violent attacks on protesters,” added Yamini Mishra.
Elements of anti-government groups retaliated to the attack on 9 May by beating up pro-government supporters and destroying buses believed to have transported them. This escalated into targeting of parliamentarians with damage to their vehicles and arson against their homes, businesses, and party offices. According to authorities, nine people have died and over 220 people have been injured in the violence that erupted. Additionally, 41 vehicles had been set on fire, 61 vehicles were damaged, and 136 incidents of property damage were recorded.
“Justice and accountability from the Sri Lankan authorities is the need of the hour. An effective and transparent inquiry is necessary to bring those responsible for the violence to justice. The country is headed towards a deepening crisis while accountability and solutions for the economic crisis – key calls by the protesters – go completely unaddressed. Right now, Sri Lanka is a tinderbox, and any move to impermissibly restrict human rights through sweeping emergency powers granted to law enforcement agencies, including the armed forces, – will lead to further repression,” said Yamini Mishra.
The Emergency Regulations lack due process safeguards, such as the right to be informed of the reason for arrest, and the issuance of an arrest receipt at the time of arrest informing family where they would be detained. Access to legal counsel is subject to conditions. The offences are broad and can be used to bar trade union strike actions, give powers to the President to shut down public processions, restrict access to public spaces, restrict the right to freedom of expression including the right to information, freedom of movement and peaceful assembly.
Further, the Regulations provide powers to use armed force against anyone who does not comply with orders. The Regulations come with hefty penalties including life imprisonment for ordinary penal offences. There is also no access to bail for offences under the Regulations, except under “exceptional circumstances.” Persons authorised by the commanders of the armed forces are empowered by the Regulations to remove suspects from detention for a period of seven days at a time. Sri Lankan authorities are accused of multiple instances of custodial torture in the past, making these provisions dangerous and raising the possibility of misuse of these powers.
On 10 May, the Defence Ministry issued a notice saying the Armed forces have been ordered to open fire at anyone looting public property or causing harm to others- a move that has been called “illegal” by some parliamentarians. The cabinet remains dissolved following the PM’s resignation on 9 May.
“The shooting orders provide a license to kill. Violent mobs should be contained, however lethal force must not be the first resort. Any restrictions on human rights during times of emergency must be necessary and proportionate to the exigencies of the situation and must not be used as a tool against freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, right to personal security, liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention. Further, any derogations from human rights guarantees under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party, should be formally communicated with a clear explanation of the reasons for them to other State parties,” said Yamini Mishra.
Sri Lanka has a history of human rights violations implicating the Military, including custodial torture under consecutive emergency situations in the past. This pattern of violations of human rights must end.
Bandana22 / May 12, 2022
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nimal fernando / May 12, 2022
Ranil is a disgraceful weasel …….. but it’s a masterstroke by the Rajapakses.
For the sake of the nation ………. I hope it gets shot down in flames.
leelagemalli / May 13, 2022
I am not a fan of any political party, but stay not coming to a decision would not bring us an inch forward
NPP/JVP rejected – their utopian vision would not let them accept anything easily – Monsanto has to help them getting our nation genetically modifiend and made ready for them.
SJB rejected – their own colleagues called it ” asai bayayi – lack of confidence”
All others rejected – even PINGUTHTHARAYA community stayed as if they are fed with clay (kirimati gilapu ewun waage).
But RW – the most known scapegoat – who acted as PRMIER to the same stupid dominated nation, 5th times so far took the challenge
What should be given the highest priority at this critical moment ? in order to shape up the economy by dealing with EU, US, India, Japan and all other donor nation – also not leaving IMF aside.
What s failed sofar – uncultured Rajapakshe and his idiotic crew thought SINO-SRILANKA would be the only life line. That is due to lack of understanding about the Chinese. Chinese are friendly with all the countries where they have so called investment projects.
Do the people have the most essentials of the day ? Our friends keep complaining not having even vegetable and other daily needs in super markets.
Fuel ques have routinzed as of today. No hopes at all about coming back to normalcy.
How would it be in a few weeks time is not even thinkable.
Sensitive readers over to you – what is important of the hour.
Stay criticising- but doing nothing ? or let MOBs to continue their vandalistic activities – amidst pirith chantings ?
leelagemalli / May 13, 2022
I thought srilankens might have learned a lession from PREVIOUS riots. They are record breakers in violence from the begining on, however wearing ” sinhala buddhism titles also around their genitals”:
It is unacceptable to see the way they demolished houses and vehicles regardless of them being of those roudy men and women. Instead, they could work colllectively get them confiscated. You will then share me, how would it be possible, so long law and order would not act on them over the decades. That is very right, but GEWALT IST KEINE LÖSUNG -violence is no solution.
Ironically – we need to repeat this more to a nation filled with so called sinhala buddhists – that alone proves to everyone that SINHALA BUDDHISM IS NOT A RELIGION BUT A LIFE STYLE.
Buddhism: as I understood is BASED ON NON-VIOLENCE:
But what is being heard in SL is ” gahapan – beat him ” – ” marapan- kill him ! ” more than anything else. Any forms of MOBs should be punished.
All beings experience pain and misery (dukkha) during their lifetime:
“Birth is pain, old age is pain, sickness is pain, death is pain; sorrow, grief, sorrow, grief, and anxiety is pain. Contact with the unpleasant is pain. Separating from the pleasant is pain. Not getting what one wants is pain. In short, the five assemblies of mind and matter that are subject to attachment are pain“.
old codger / May 13, 2022
“I thought srilankens might have learned a lession from PREVIOUS riots. They are record breakers in violence from the begining”
You are absolutely right. I wonder what alternative Amnesty has to shooting looters on sight. These are criminal opportunists taking advantage of the situation.
RBH59 / May 12, 2022
Can anyone take action Parliamentarian who intermediate trouble. This the reason for hybrid model investigation is needed and truly all that comes under the observation. And never to happen in future like the present bankruptcy.
Still wanted people are flying outside the country knowingly to security intelligent
Native Vedda / May 12, 2022
Ranil has been appointed as the next Prime Minister by Gota who was elected by 2/3 Sinhala/Buddhist votes? Are you still going to say some stupid things?
How are you going to split hair?
Ajith / May 12, 2022
So far, other than burning of properties and materials, the throuble makers (Rajapaksa and Coolies) no one has taken any action against them because the master mind Gotabaya is in power and all institutions under him are in operation. I understand most of them have left the country safely and Gota has started his stunt by appointing Ranil as PM and bring the country under military. The danger is that using the burning of properties as a violation of law, they may put the blame on the protestors in couts. We know that the West or India or China appears on the side of protestors but they need Rajapaksas for their business. That is why they brought Ranil as PM. Already US and Mahinda Family Congratulated Ranil as PM. India may send its military as they did during the 2009 war. China is ready to fund. Rajapaksas are ready to sell the whole country.
Native Vedda / May 12, 2022
Where are you?
Do you think its time your hero Mahinda is taken to prison for further investigation.
Why and where is he hiding?
I have been advising you to start a mother of all riots against minorities, you never listen do you?
Now you see your God (father) Mahinda has to run away, endure all these humiliations, facing dangers, ……. Why?
Are you putting up with Sambandan (AIYA)?
By the way if you run out of medicine just ring the Hindian Embassy in Colombo or call Hindian External Affairs minister (S. Jaishankar) a Tamil Descendant from Trichy.
Plato / May 12, 2022
Ranil polled only 20,000 odd votes only at the last general election and did not enter Parliament.But he got in through the back door the National list!
NOW the PM again.Fresh deal with the Rajapaksa family. All their corruption will be swept under the carpet. In the event of Gota going home he will end up as President. Not bad. He has played his cards while the others were running around aimlessly………
Would there be a RanilGO Gama project at 5th lane Colpetty?
Anyway Ranil too has burnt his boat while MaRa is cruising away……….
Would MaRa return now that his bosom pal Ranil holds the Reigns?
SS / May 13, 2022
Rajapaksas ‘cutting deals’ with Bond scam Ranil and even Prabakaran is proof that they are all freemasons.
They act like ‘enemies’ and ‘rivals’ in the open, but are working together behind the scenes.
Pandi Kutti / May 13, 2022
Where? Prapakaran in heaven or hell depending on whom you ask and the rest on earth, making life hell for everyone else but heaven for themselves?
Lasantha Pethiyagoda / May 13, 2022
Watch the language of Kamal Guney and Shavey when addressing the media. They seem to indicate what is in store for Sri Lanka, while Ranil works to exonerate the Poxes from all crimes.
SJ / May 13, 2022
We will one day, not very soon, will know for sure who arranged the deal and what the terms are.
The signs are already there.
Whoever accepted the office of PM under GR would have agreed to certain terms.